Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984

Conditions in Buchenwald

Were you ever beaten?

Oh sure, I was beaten up once by a blond SS woman. She gave me such a beating, with a whip, just because I weaved out a little bit, I just stepped out a little from the line marching home. I was beaten up so badly, I, I couldn't move, but I... It didn't mean a thing to them. I remember one night we were, I was transferred from the GieBerei to put in the actual uh, bazooka into these uh, wooden cases that they were packing 'em in and sending 'em out to the lines. And I, I was lucky and there was a young man, a young kid, well, it was my age and he was working next to me and somehow he was not as fast as, as, as the... He held up a little bit, the line. And one of the SS man saw that... That kid was beaten up all night long. All night long, can you imagine that? And that poor kid. And to top it all off, he had to work, make up for the time. And we couldn't do a thing. You couldn't do a thing, and that was such frustrations that we had over there, it was, it's beyond description. I mean, I, I sometimes wonder how we survived it. With that little bit of food and then when it came, I mean, when they used to give us that bread finally to eat and they used to give it to us, I mean, to slice it, we had to slice that bread. Why they had all kinds of gadgets, I mean, to do it with. And they gave you thirty or forty minutes, they gave you for lunch, it took ten minutes to slice that bread because God forbid if you had slice it just 100th of an inch in the wrong direction, why it's like, like you, why are you... What right do you have to do that? We used to fight. All these things, I mean, they were, they were things that, that they should... We were treated to. And then, you were trying very, very hard to eat it very slowly, eat that bread slowly. You know, try to... I wonder whether it's to enjoy or, or, or every bite of it and pay attention to the every bite of it. As I say it to you right now, I remember sitting down there, you know, like in a corner by myself, I don't want anybody to disturb me when I eat it. And maybe that was my will to survive.

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